Breathing Underwater

Slow Living

This is the Slow Folk weekly letter from life in the trenches in the battle against busy. If you’d like to become part of our community and get the letter straight to your inbox, please join us.

Morning Friend,

So I was chatting with a member of the Slow Folk Substack community this week – we were talking about the parts of slowing down that we don’t often talk about. The parts that don’t look pretty and polished, that don’t fit in those perfect squares on social.

The shitty thing is – it’s these messy bits, the places of discomfort and self-doubt and fear – where all the good stuff happens. And if we ignore them, don’t bring them out into the bright light of day . . . well. 

When we do that, we start to tell ourselves that we must be failing, instead of recognizing them for what they are – integral to the process itself.

Let’s face it. Slowing down in our culture? Not easy.

  • Do you ever face flack from your friends and family about your choices?
  • Do you sometimes feel hesitant to share the changes that you’ve made, or dream of making?
  • If you’re a parent, have you ever been shamed for your choices? Had it suggested that you were letting your kids down by not cramming their schedule with ‘enriching’ extracurriculars to give them a ‘leg up’?
  • Have you felt tension between what you feel like you’re ‘supposed’ to do, and what you know in your heart is your proper path?
  • Do you wonder if slowing down is even possible in our speed-obsessed culture?

Ya. Me too.

The thing is, swimming upstream isn’t easy.  But the fact that it can be hard doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

My final piece in art school was called Breathing Underwater. It was about the turning point I’d experienced as a creative swimming upstream in that dogmatic, quietly misogynistic, academic mix.

See, what I learned, and what the piece embodied, was the truth that these things of value, these brave journeys into self, of questioning and challenging the status-quo – they aren’t supposed to be easy.

If it were easy, everyone would do it. 

And then it would be like breathing, instead of like breathing underwater.

The truth is – most people around you will not understand. And the people who are closest to you? They’ll often be the ones who understand the least.

The holiday season was always the highest point of tension between my values and my family’s. Especially when my kids were small, the build-up to the holidays was marked by constant arguments with my Mum, big and small – always revolving around what was ‘enough’.

It drove me crazy, but I also strove to remember that change is uncomfortable. Growth can be painful. 

I was willing to endure some conflict with my Mum in order to gift my children a life and belief system that made space to express generosity and love in ways other than copious consumption of material goods.

The thing to remember when those we love question our choices – is that it isn’t about our choices, and it isn’t about us.

Most folks never take the time to examine their beliefs, values and life choices. Most of us are simply being swept downstream, focused on just keeping our head above water. 

If YOU feel this way, know it’s not your fault if your life feels like too much, too fast.

The current we all swim in is strong as hell. It’s no surprise so many of us are struggling for breath.

So don’t worry about what others are doing, or what they have to say about your journey. It’s just them trying to keep breath in their own body.

You don’t have to explain your choices, defend your position or try to change the beliefs of the people you love.

The best way to generate change is to simply go do the thing.

Swim upstream. Build those muscles of resilience in the face of social pressure. Root yourself in what you know to be true and let go of the rest.

You’re not alone – there are thousands of us out here, pushing upstream right along with you. Keep going.

As always.

P.S. If you’re ready to Slow Down and could use some support, next week we are going to start taking applications for an invite-only FREE 6-week live masterclass in the New Year. Stay tuned!

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